The term “workforce development,” has been popular in leadership circles of late.
Why has it become such a hot issue now?
Like most things that seem to appear from nowhere, the challenge of finding and retaining talent has been getting more and more prevalent in recent years. That critical need now is on the top of most communities’ list.
Sure, there were certain job sectors that had more talent shortages than others. However, there wasn’t enough “pain” to create the awareness needed to develop talent as there is now. With so many places looking to hire people today, finding talent has become much harder.
Our world has changed so much. There are jobs in sectors like technology creating demand for positions that barely existed 10 years ago. Add a national boom in construction right now and it’s creating heavy demand in several job categories. Furthermore, there’s the realization that many of the job needs existing today do not require a college degree. Add all that up and the need for workforce development is evident.
Workforce development means preparing people with the skills needed to be successful in a specific occupation. It’s hard to argue with its importance – it’s people learning what it takes for them to be gainfully employed.
There’s one key miss I see often: If we stop development once a person attains a job, we are missing the goal. That is the need for every person that provides direction to an employee to view his role as a workforce developer. Last week in my column I mentioned a supervisor must see himself as a chief development officer. That is what each person in a leadership role must be to achieve organizational goals.
Here’s the problem: For a person to be good at developing others, they need to be part of an organization that invests in their development.
After all, one of the top reasons people leave a job is because of their boss. Yet organization’s investments in developing people in supervisory roles are incredibly low.
Most people in a supervisory role were promoted from within. They were a good sales person, so guess what, now they are the sales manager. A person is a talented carpenter, and because someone leaves — training or not — he becomes the crew supervisor.
Think about your own work experiences. Who played a key part in your own development? It was most likely a co-worker or your supervisor.
The more skilled the supervisor, the better they will be at helping others develop to the best of their abilities. A key part of workforce development must be providing people who have been placed in a supervisory role the development they need to succeed.
For many organizations the vital investment in leadership development is not made. Why? It could be because some people become good supervisors without receiving training. I find those people a real exception. The rest of us benefit from development.
These past years at the Studer Community Institute we have provided the opportunity for many organizations to send people to many development sessions.
EntreCon saw 450 people attend the 2017 conference as they learned how to build better organizations. We are fortunate to have other avenues for development in the area with the University of West Florida, Pensacola State College and others.
Yet we are just scratching the surface. Ironically, when I ask business owners and government leaders why they don’t invest more in the development of their managers, I hear several answers.
The top one is “I can’t afford to let them take the time off for training.” They miss the fact that the training helps them attain better performance. I think the main reason is that most organizations have historically not invested in manager development so they have no idea the value it will provide.
Providing workforce development is critical to an organization, a community and a nation’s success. It is great that it is receiving lots of attention now.
To maximize this investment, let’s invest equally in leadership development so those people entering the workforce can find success. And those currently in the workplace will be fully productive. The key is excellent leadership. Excellent leadership just does not happen. It must be built through investment.